KINGMAN - Just over 25 years ago, Darel Fruhwirth came to Kingman from Southern California to be the director of Parks and Recreation. On April 15 he will retire from that position, but he isn't going anywhere. Kingman is his home.
Although the city is much larger than it was when he first moved here, Fruhwirth said it still feels like a small town. That's because of the people, he said. There is a volunteer ethic in this community that one would be hard-pressed to find in other towns, regardless of the size.
When little league teams need coaches, the community steps up. When there's a new park to build, the community steps up.
"There are a lot of very special people here," said Fruhwirth. "That's what makes this area great."
Add in Kingman's proximity to several big cities, and the ability of community members to partake in a long list of outdoor activities, and what you have is the best of both worlds, said Fruhwirth.
In his quarter-century of service to Kingman, Fruhwirth helped develop several small neighborhood parks as well as the youth sports facility at Southside Park.
Just being part of Kingman's growth is a source of pride for Fruhwirth, but he knows that without all the community support, some of the growth may have never happened.
"Volunteers made Southside Park happen," said Fruhwirth. "This community is full of a lot of people doing thankless jobs."
Kingman will continue to grow, said Fruhwirth, because it's a nice place to live. And as it grows, the community will continue to play a major role.
Fruhwirth will continue his own volunteer efforts as well, whether it's umpiring for Little League or helping facilitate the city's 10-kilometer runs.
City Manager Jack Kramer met Fruhwirth the day he took the director of Parks and Recreation job. Fruhwirth helped get the city's departments to work together, said Kramer. Before him, no one ever took the time to get everyone on the same page. Ever since, city departments have had a much better working relationship with each other.
"This is a great loss," said Kramer. "It won't be easy to fill his shoes, but I'm sure someone will."
Fruhwirth plans to spend more time with his family, more time on the golf course "on the other side of the tee-box" and more time having fun with his friends, who just so happen to be the people he's worked with over the years.